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March 29, 2008

"I have a feeling this is going to be just delicious."

Moonstruck is now up in full on Hulu and I was reminded that it has just a gangbuster ending scene.

Bird Perches

Emma and Simon just spent the last three days at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center with a score of homeschoolers. They learned survival skills, map and compass work, went snowshoeing, did the high ropes course, rock climbing, etc. The above activity was acting as a human bird feeder for some chickadees. A useful skill, no doubt.

My Life Stolen

truck5.jpgI just had this dream in which I had rented a truck to move some old, personal items out of storage. I was staying overnight at a college because of some convention or symposium or something professional and I got up the next morning to find that the truck had been emptied!

At first I kind of shrugged because it was old, old stuff in storage that I didn't really care about that much. And then I started to think about all the old journals and drawings and flotsam and jetsam from my youth and I got peeved. I walked into the closest building to see if I could find any clues as to who did this and I saw my friend Sienna in the hall.

Sienna beckoned me into a classroom which had categorized piles of my and other people's stuff, including filing cabinets and drawers. There were about a half dozen people in the room and some of them were reading off of pink paper a play developed from something I'd written in a journal when I was a teenager. The only other person I recognized in the room, John, was uploading video snippets and pieces of my life to the internet.

Outraged, I demanded to know what was going on. They kind of smirked at me, dropped some things in some files, and left the room. After a little poking around I figured out that they were using my material as fodder for their internet performance pieces and exposing the overwrought, emotional person I was as a teenager. Weren't we all?

About that time I woke up.

Lockhorns Aloud

jillbernard.jpgYou know how it is. Sometimes you are on the go and you don't pick up the paper and you miss reading your favorite comic strip couple, the Lockhorns. Well, fear not! Minneapolis Improv Artist Jill Bernard has now started an invaluable service to the world. Every weekday she reads the Lockhorns aloud.

Along with the audio file is a automatic text transcription of the audio and that can contain its own humor since her transcription software isn't 100% accurate.

Thanks to Fuzzy for pointing me to this.

March 28, 2008

When I'm Dead

I've been doing a lot of funerals lately and it's always interesting to hear how people are remembered and for what. Here are some common things I do and say that I hope my children will remember about me when I'm dead.


"Look it up!"

We live in the golden age of research. I carry with me wherever I go a store of knowledge greater than the Library of Alexandria. Sure, you can't believe everything you read, but you never could! So, to me, with this incredible treasure at our fingertips, it's nearly inexcusable not to do basic research. If you have a question, look it up! If you are curious about something, look it up!

"I like to brush my teeth."

My children make fun of my toothbrushing fetish. They even have a song about it.
He likes to brush... his teeth! He likes to brush... his teeth!
He takes his toothbrush with him wherever he goes, because
He likes to brush... his teeth! He likes to brush... his teeth!
But I don't mind being remembered for that.

"Be on time!"

I'm tough on my kids about punctuality but being on time is an easy way to tell someone that you care about them.

"Geek out."

It's fun to obsess about things. And it's more fun when it's a shared obsession. Simon and I geek out about World of Warcraft. Emma and I geek out over Buffy. We all geek out over Doctor Who.

"Make the most of the roles you get."

In theater you don't always get the parts you want, but you can still enjoy the roles you get. Sometimes it's more challenging and satisfying to really immerse yourself in a role you didn't expect. And, ultimately, it's always more fun to excel at the role you got rather than moaning over the role you didn't get. Who wants to live like that?

"There is a song to be sung about everything."

I'm a shameless bard of every little thing that happens in our household, no matter how small. Actually, some of the best songs are about the little things. And it isn't about singing well, it's just about singing.

"Presentation is everything."

I like to cook but, even more than that, I like to plate. To me it doesn't matter if the meal is small or big, a well presented meal is a joy to the eyes and adds to the whole experience.

"Do the math."

Math is fun. Further doing the math yourself and thinking things out logically and systematically can not only save you a lot of money and hardship, it also keeps your mind limber.

What do you want your children or friends to remember about you when you're dead?

Name the Virus

The above video shows the spread of...

a) Kudzu
b) Walmart
c) Wendy's
d) Krispee Kreme

Yep, it's Walmart. Read more here.

March 27, 2008

A Public Service Announcement

So, if anyone out there reading this blog has a hickey and tries this let me know if it works. I'm just, you know, empirically curious.

March 26, 2008

In Memory of Gary


MIT students created this giant d20 (that's a 20 sided die for the uninitiated) in a common area on campus to memorialize Gary Gygax. The plaque reads:

In Memory of Gary Gygax
July 27, 1938 - March 4, 2008
who led us on so many
wonderful adventures

March 24, 2008

Into Every Generation


Hulu now has Buffy seasons 1 & 2 up and ready for viewing for free! Season 2 is a favorite of mine, what with Spike and Dru and evil Angel. And the season finale contains what I think are the funniest 15 seconds in all of Buffy.

Of course, hobbits don't wear socks...

1254284121_e25fecd721.jpgor shoes for that matter, but I'd love to have a pair of these socks made by Sue Grandfield. They would be precious to me. My preciousssssss...

March 23, 2008

Happy Easter


Lucy is incredulous about her headgear. Emma took the photo this afternoon.

March 22, 2008

Catchy Slogan

SLA_GroupShot%28400%29.jpgI was just reading about how Sarah Jane Olson (aka Kathleen Soliah, formerly of the SLA) was released from prison yesterday only to be put back in custody today. Something about someone counting wrong and releasing her from prison a year early. (Huh?)

But what caught my eye was this detail about the Symbionese Liberation Army:

The SLA started in 1973 when no more than a dozen white, college-educated children from middle-class families adopted a seven-headed snake as their symbol and an ex-convict as their leader. Their slogan: "Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people."

Clearly none of these college-educated white kids did much with composition or creative writing 'cause that sucks as a slogan. I'm glad they never wrote a jingle.

March 21, 2008

Rite of Spring

As we begin Spring I was reminded this morning of this story of how Stravinsky's Rite of Spring caused a riot the first time it was performed. This segment from an episode of Radiolab explores the physiology and psychology behind the riot. It's fascinating listening.

March 20, 2008

No One Expects...

So I'm quickly clicking through my RSS news feeds, having a backlog of over a hundred stories, and this headline quickly flashes before my eyes...


What's the first thing you would think of?

Yeah, not me. The first thing I thought of was the Inquisition and who the hell did the Catholic church lock up for 5 years and what for?

Yes, I'm that big of a dork that that's the way my mind works.

Besides... what would a sports story be doing in my RSS feeds?

Birthday Surprise

Emma has been making a comic a day during Lent. She's finally getting around to scanning some of them and putting them up on her blog. I like this one particularly since it's the one from my birthday.

Torchwood 45895

45895torchwood.jpgAllow me a bit of a geek out moment. I was watching an episode of Torchwood and in the split second when they showed the clearance code to the Torchwood computer I saw 5 digits that are seared into my memory. Yes, the code to Torchwood is the zip code I grew up in which is, therefore, also the zip code of the hometown of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. Is it a coincidence that this particular postal code should be the password on a sci-fi program? Maybe... Maybe not...

March 19, 2008

Free Speech Group Doesn't Allow Attendees to Speak

freespeechzone.jpgJust when you thought the Republicans couldn't get any more Orwellian, the Minneapolis task force formed to ensure the free speech rights of protesters at the upcoming Republican National Convention silenced attendees at their meeting today. The attendees resorted to holding up handwritten signs. You can read the full story as reported by Minnesota Public Radio which didn't miss the irony of this.

Or you can just read 1984.

March 17, 2008

Pop Culture Update: What I've Been Into

Since I finished my May to January run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on my Netflix queue I've been kind of unfocused in my watching habits. Here are some of the things I've been into.

Flight of the Conchords, with the video above which may not exactly be 100% safe for work, is kind of like They Might Be Giants meets Kids in the Hall.

Slings and Arrows is set at a Canadian Shakespeare Festival (that looks suspiciously like the Stratford Festival) where artists butt heads with corporate types. That never happens in real life.

Torchwood is the grittier, sexier spinoff of Doctor Who that keeps the humor of the original series and all the great production quality. Whoever thought we'd be talking about great production quality and Doctor Who in the same sentence? Also, is it just me, or does the Torchwood theme song sound a lot like the title music from Pi?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

Everyone sing along!

March 13, 2008

I Even Have a Bad Feeling about This

Obiwanlars.gifFirst I was the Green Lantern, then Shepherd Book, now I'm Obi-Wan Kenobi. And frankly, I couldn't be more pleased. Master Kenobi made a huge impression on me as a youth.

Which Star Wars character are you?
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Han Solo
Luke Skywalker
Princess Leia
Qui-Gon Jinn
Mace Windu
You are civilized, calm, and
have a good sense of humor,
even when those around you don't.
You can hold your own in a fight,
but prefer it when things
don't get too exciting.
(This list displays the top 10 results out of a possible 21 characters)

March 12, 2008

Homeland Security Infiltrates World of Warcraft

gnometerror.jpgMMORPGs may just be the place to find potential terrorists, according to the Reynard project. The goal is to detect "suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world."

As an admitted WoW addict (though I'm in a 6 week withdrawal right now) I have to ask... what would count as aberrant behavior in this admittedly violent game? I'm supposing it would have to be something completely anarchical and against the intended social structure, like, for example, a pacifist!

Here's an excerpt from the proposal:

The cultural and behavioral norms of virtual worlds and gaming are generally unstudied. Therefore, Reynard will seek to identify the emerging social, behavioral and cultural norms in virtual worlds and gaming environments. The project would then apply the lessons learned to determine the feasibility of automatically detecting suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world.

If it shows early promise, this small seedling effort may increase its scope to a full project.

To which Charlotte, who pointed out this whole absurd thing to me, said:

Some nerd just figured out how to get Uncle Sam to pay his Verizon bill and justify his 19 hour/day WoW habit. I salute you, unnamed nerd!

I, too, salute you unnamed nerd!

Firefly, for free!

Hulu is now live and open to the public. Now you can watch all of Firefly for free on your computer. Shiny!

March 10, 2008

Jetpack Envy

gauld.jpgTom Gauld is hilarious.

March 9, 2008

Anyone Out There? Wanna Trade?

080219-planets-life_big.jpgAccording to a recent article there may be a lot more habitable planets in the galaxy than we had thought. In fact, it's thought that more than half of stars like our sun are likely to have earth-like, water-bearing, temperate planets like our own blue celestial island.

If this is true, of course, it greatly expands the possible number of potential intelligent extraterrestrial species that we might encounter according to the famous Drake equation.

Further, Javiera Guedes at UC Santa Cruz suggests that, according to computer models, Alpha Centauri is prime to have one of these habitable planets in the Goldilocks zone. Alpha Centauri, as any geek knows, is one of our closest stellar neighbors and so is the most likely candidate for humankind's first interstellar jaunt.

In light of all this political scientist John Hickman's latest article in Astropolitics entitled "Problems of Interplanetary and Interstellar Trade" might be considered more than merely an academic study. An excerpt...

Economic exchange itself might be "alien" to the aliens. Members of an alien species may not experience the same intense sense of self that is exhibited in rationally self-interested economic exchange among humans. Instead, a collective identity could be dominant. Money might not exist and without it neither would complex markets or banking. If they do engage in economic exchange it might take a form akin to potlatch, the competitive gift-giving for status solely among members of the same tribe traditional among societies in Melanesia and the Pacific Northwest. Moreover an alien species might not live in separate societies and could thus have no conception of trade between different societies with different cultures.

Then again, maybe they are Ferengi.

For my fun speculation on a possible first encounter, feel free to read Signs of Intelligent Life.

March 8, 2008

Food Fights

Here's an abridged version of the last 70 years of warfare. A veritable "smorgasbord of aggression."

Here's a cheatsheet listing all the foodstuffs and a breakdown of the battles.

And, while we are talking about food fights, remember that politics is just warfare by other means (or something like that). Here are some of campaign ads made by my pal, Fuzzy.

March 7, 2008

Professional Calvinball Rules


I had a dream the other night that I was going out with a group of colleagues, people from work as it were, to play baseball. There were so many of us that we had to use two adjacent ballfields. The first one was perfect, well kept, beautiful, with a fully functional scoreboard. The adjacent field was overgrown, irregular, with trees growing here and there in the field, and the bases were poorly marked.

I ended up playing in the irregular field, with loosely defined teams and even more loosely defined rules. It seemed to be a hodgepodge of baseball, kickball, tag, and improv comedy. And we were having a great time.

In the meantime in the other field the crisply suited teams were playing their game. Occasionally a ball from their field would fly into ours and, to their consternation, we'd often throw it back into play impishly.

I think I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm never going to climb the ladder in my chosen profession. I'm never going to go "big league." But it's not because I'm untalented, it's just because I'm not playing that game. I'm over here in an overgrown field playing by Calvinball rules and I'm enjoying myself quite nicely, thank you very much.

March 6, 2008

What if David Sedaris were a Pizza Delivery Boy?

All the Bar's a Stage and We Are Merely Smokers

ingrid-cigarette.jpgCreative bars in Minnesota are getting around the recent statewide smoking ban by exploiting an exemption for actors smoking on stage. How do they do this? They have theater nights where they declare that the bar is a stage and everyone who enters are actors.

I have to smile at this because I like people who creatively exploit loopholes but I bet it isn't as fun as it should be. I imagine a theater night at a bar where everyone who enters receives a role to play in an unfolding drama, one giant improvisation experiment.

The bouncer could be the casting director as people come in. "Okay, you are playing Buddy, a closeted homosexual who comes here twice a week to scope out the men, but never does anything about it. You are Joan, Buddy's older sister who is a single mother of three and a successful realtor but secretly wants to leave it all and start a pottery studio." And anyone who slips out of character gets bounced.

Now that would be a Theater Night.

March 4, 2008

Gary Gygax 1938-2008

gary-gygax.jpgGary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away today at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Thank you, Gary, for all the worlds you've permitted me to travel through.

March 3, 2008

Nudity on TV?
FCC says "OK" as long as it's Alyson Hannigan

Yeah, those guidelines are perfectly clear, understandable, and acceptable to me.



International Learn how to Pronounce "Medvedev" Day

I hereby declare today International Learn how to Pronounce "Medvedev" Day since he's officially been elected and we gotta. I have to admit that I have enjoyed listening to American announcers try to wrestle their tongues around his name and I don't blame Clinton for stumbling over it. It's tough for us Americans!

Here's the teacher...

Now I'll try...

Your turn!